Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Bruce/Dick, Alfred Pennyworth, William/Valencia, The Mysterious Burglar
Genres: AU, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): G
Warnings (this chapter): None
General Summary: A series of daring robberies on Gotham City’s Gold Coast catches the attention of the Raven and the Nightingale.
Chapter Summary: The Raven and the Nightingale stake out a house.
Date Of Completion: October 4, 2014
Date Of Posting: August 6, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1707
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Submitted to my 2015 DCU Fic/Art Dick Grayson Diamond Anniversary Challenge. The entire series can be found here.
YELLOW IS REVERSIBLE
In the cold of night,
As the prey dances
Just out of reach.
Sir Devin Breckenshire
“Poems Of The Hunt”
The air of excitement reminded Dick of the atmosphere backstage on an Opening Night. Alfred helped him and Bruce with the finishing touches for their costumes: Bruce in black and Dick in dark-green with red vest, yellow cravat, and yellow cape. He pulled on green gloves.
“How are you going to skulk about with that canary-yellow cape of yours?” asked Bruce.
“Reversible,” Dick said with a smile, swishing his cape around.
Bruce sighed as Dick laughed and Alfred had hid his smile. “Are you ready, Nightingale?”
“Always, Raven.” Dick put his green domino mask on while Bruce put on his black one. He also put on a black top hat while Dick picked up his dark-green hat.
“Your canes, sirs,” said Alfred, holding out one with a raven’s head and the other with a nightingale’s head. Both were gold and heavy and formidable weapons. They also carried daggers in the inside of their cloaks. Practicing with the daggers had been a fun exercise, both of them proficient with the weapons. Bruce had vetoed guns, and Dick agreed. He knew that Bruce’s parents had been killed by a handgun.
Dick had no use for guns. He had never hunted, too young to learn before his own parents were killed. Daggers and other knives were his people’s preferred weapons.
“Can we walk to the Collins estate?” he asked.
“We can. Other nights we’ll have to take horses.”
Dick liked that idea. His favorite mount was a dappled mare named Daisy, a sweet-tempered soul who Dick had instantly bonded with upon their first meeting.
Walking was good, too. The night was crisp and cold with that autumn tang whether one was in America or Europe. He was eager to begin their work. Catching criminals was certainly a noble endeavor. Doing it with Bruce was just plain fun.
Surprise is the spice of life. I never would have guessed Bruce for the crusader type.
But being the lover of a rich adventurer was a very interesting choice to his life path. He glanced at Bruce beside him. They walked through the woods on a path Bruce knew. There was a nearly full moon, which suited their night’s work well.
Neither man spoke. The only sound was the whistle of the wind in the trees and the occasional hoot of an owl underscored by the crunch of fallen leaves under their shoes.
He suppressed a shiver. Something was going to happen tonight. His parents would have called it the Sight.
Sight or no sight, his instincts were finely-honed. He followed Bruce’s lead since he knew the way.
They reached the estate, a brass plaque at the front gate proclaiming it to be Collinswood. The brick walls enclosing the estate were topped by iron spikes. Bruce quietly signalled and they threw up lightweight ropes, snagging the spikes with iron hooks and climbing up the wall. Vaulting over the wall, they landed on their feet on the grass, pulling the ropes down.
Fortunately there were no guard dogs or other security around. They could be staking out the wrong house, but Bruce had deduced that the priceless Faberge egg owned by William and Valencia Collins would be targeted next. Dick had agree, and now they were stealing quietly through the trees to reach the edge of the woods and find a good spot so they could see activity around the house but remain unseen.
Dick was grateful that it was not raining or the bitter cold of winter. They would have to make modifications to their costumes for that snowy season.
For now, the crisp night air was just right. Dick wrapped his cloak tighter around himself, Bruce smiling as he put his cloak around his companion’s shoulders, leaving his arm around Dick. They settled in on the hard ground to watch.
Stars twinkled in the cloudless sky as the moon shone down brightly. Dick was dubious about any experienced thief choosing a near-full moon for his work, but it might be just the cover he would need, as he would think that no one would expect such a bold attempt.
Rather romantic, except that it’s cold and we’re sitting on the hard ground.
Lights were on in the first-floor rooms, probably the front parlor and study, perhaps the library. Dick thought back to the diagram Bruce had drawn and remembered that his guesses were right.
Shadows moved in the parlor. A thin, filmy undercurtain had been drawn. The silhouette was a woman with her hourglass figure. Dick sympathized with her. The corset she was wearing must be extremely tight. He had dressed as a woman for a play he had once performed in and the corset had been torturous.
How do women wear those awful things?
He was much happier with a waistcoat. He watched as the silhouette disappeared and the lamplight was extinguished, and the watchers’ attention was drawn to the study.
A soft glow from a Tiffany lamp illuminated a man sitting at a desk, working on a ledger. The woman from the parlor entered, looking handsome in a peach-colored dress. She put her hand on his shoulder and he looked up with a smile.
Dick was a little surprised at the affection. Most upper-class couples he had seen were extremely proper with each other. Most marriages were made for anything but love, but William and Valencia at least appeared to like each other.
The hooting of an owl carried over the clear night air. A rustle in the underbrush startled Dick.
Bruce gently tapped his shoulder. Dick relaxed. He could do this. Staying motionless and quiet was not exactly foreign to him. Observing people was a useful skill, especially when they were not aware of it.
The Collins couple talked for about ten minutes, then William ran a hand through his brown hair in a tired gesture. Slender and tall as he stood, he was only a few inches taller than Valencia, whose chestnut hair was beginning to fall out of her pompadour.
A shame people don’t get more comfortable in the evening.
He smiled as he remembered how scandalized Alfred had been when he had first come down to the parlor after dinner in yellow silk pajamas and a matching robe…</i>
Bruce looked up from his chair by the fireplace at Alfred’s exclamation, eyes widening. “What have we here?”
Dick walked in as if he was onstage, graceful and majestic. He wore gold lame slippers, every inch of him sparkling.
“May I ask what this…outfit…is about?” Alfred asked, gripping a tray with cups of hot chocolate.
“My pajamas, Alfred. I have no performance tonight. I always dress comfortably if I’m not out on the town or entertaining people.”
Bruce was dressed in his dark-blue smoking jacket, white shirt and blue pants. He wore slippers, too.
“Gentlemen do not wear such things outside the bedroom,” Alfred said firmly.
“But I’m not a gentleman, Alfred,” Dick said with a wink as he took a cup.
Alfred shook his head. “You are, young sir.”
Pride reflected in Dick’s eyes. “Thanks, Alfred.” He flopped on the couch. “But I’m still wearing my pajamas.”
“Ah, very comfortable,” Bruce said. Gold highlights reflected in his eyes as he sipped his chocolate.
Dick smiled at the memory. Alfred was properly appalled by Bruce adopting what he called Dick’s ‘Bohemian ways.’.
And it always pays off.
He squeezed Bruce’s knee and the other man smiled at him.
The Collinses left the study, extinguishing the lamp. Minutes later a light went on in an upstairs bedroom and the shade was drawn down. Fifteen minutes later the light went out around the edges of the shade.
They had already discussed how long they would stake out the place. They would stay two hours and then leave if nothing happened. Bruce had firmly stated that he had no intention of staying out all night without any indication that there would be a robbery.
Dick heartily agreed. They were mostly guessing as to the next robbery, but a jeweled Faberge egg was a tempting prize for any thief.
An hour later Dick stretched his legs out. He was getting stiff. Not good for a dancer or crimebuster, for that matter.
Bruce began to move, too, then suddenly stiffened as he grabbed Dick’s arm. He pointed and Dick saw the movement of shadow from the northeast corner. They quickly got into a crouch and watched as the shadow moved toward the house with surprising agility. A black-clad figure disappeared around the back of the house out of sight, his cloak fluttering out behind him.
Bruce and Dick left the woods and went around the corner, noticing the neat hole in the glass of the kitchen door. The rapidity of the star glazier cut indicated a professional of the highest order.
Bruce opened the door and Dick followed him, the two of them silent as they went through the kitchen, careful not to bump into anything and make noise.
Moving stealthily down the hall, they reached the study. Bruce carefully opened the door.
The thief was standing at the French doors, holding a small sack. His face was obscured by a full hood, only green eyes visible in the moonlight. The cloak obscured his outfit.
Before either Bruce or Dick could say a word the thief pushed the doors open and dashed outside. Bruce and Dick ran after him but the burglar was incredibly quick.
“Where’d he go?” Dick whispered.
“I don’t know.” A horse’s whinny carried over from the stables. “Come on!”
The duo reached the stables just as the doors burst open and the thief galloped out astride a big chestnut horse. He guided the horse across the lawn and to the wall, vaulting over the spikes in a stunning display of power and agility.
Bruce and Dick followed but by the time they hit the ground outside the estate, the daring thief was long gone. Lights were going on in the house so Bruce and Dick ran into the forest as the moon shone its light placidly down.
Next: Part II: Emerald